ARC: Darius The Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram

Darius The Great is Not Okay Goodreads Synopsis:

Darius doesn’t think he’ll ever be enough, in America or in Iran. Hilarious and heartbreaking, this unforgettable debut introduces a brilliant new voice in contemporary YA.

Darius Kellner speaks better Klingon than Farsi, and he knows more about Hobbit social cues than Persian ones. He’s about to take his first-ever trip to Iran, and it’s pretty overwhelming–especially when he’s also dealing with clinical depression, a disapproving dad, and a chronically anemic social life. In Iran, he gets to know his ailing but still formidable grandfather, his loving grandmother, and the rest of his mom’s family for the first time. And he meets Sohrab, the boy next door who changes everything.

Sohrab makes sure people speak English so Darius can understand what’s going on. He gets Darius an Iranian National Football Team jersey that makes him feel like a True Persian for the first time. And he understand that sometimes, best friends don’t have to talk. Darius has never had a true friend before, but now he’s spending his days with Sohrab playing soccer, eating rosewater ice cream, and sitting together for hours in their special place, a rooftop overlooking the Yazdi skyline.

Sohrab calls him Darioush–the original Persian version of his name–and Darius has never felt more like himself than he does now that he’s Darioush to Sohrab. When it’s time to go home to America, he’ll have to find a way to be Darioush on his own.

Commentary:

tumblr_inline_niyn5ntHcI1ry72eo I received the arc for Darius The Great Is Not Okay when I attended Yallwest, all opinions are my own. tumblr_inline_niyn5ntHcI1ry72eo  ʕ灬→ᴥ←灬ʔ

I am trying to read as much as possible before going back to my fall semester of my senior year at university. I picked up Darius The Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram for my July book of the month. I was immediately drawn to the cover, the colors and details are by far my favorite.

Darius Kellner is a biracial teenager who suffers from depression. He fells outcasted in his school, and his family, especially by his father. Darius understands that he is not normal. He is a bit on the heavy side, nerdy, and doesn’t socialize with people. His father has his own ambitions for his son in order for Darius to fit in with the normal boys in school. In addition, Darius is a victim of being bullied often by the popular boys. I felt quite sad for Darius due his illness, and how it seem like nothing was going his way.

Darius also suffers from an identity crisis because he is biracial. Though he looks Persian on the outside, he is far more Americanized. Darius could hardly speak to his grandparents in Farsi. He feels socially awkward with his Persian family because he does not fit in, and mental illness is not spoken of. He compares himself with his younger sibling who speaks Farsi like the pro.

A family trip to Iran shakes Darius’s world. He is introduced to his mother’s homeland and experiences an overall change because of it. Due to unfortunate circumstances, Darius’s grandfather is slowing dying. The family trip is supposed to connect the family together, and bring Darius closer together to his Persian history. Darius experiences different events in his short trip abroad. He becomes best friends with Sohrab, who immediately accepts him, though Darius completely does not understand why. Darius feels he has multiple flaws, despite being surrounded by people who love and support him. (灬♥ω♥灬)

If you go into this book thinking it is a romance, that’s not the case. For me, I did feel that Darius had feelings for Sohrab because of their connection, and their trusting friendship. What stood out for me was the relationship between Darius and his father, Stephen Kellner. Though both have depression, each character handles their depression differently. Stephen Kellner expects Darius to be masculine, and be normal. He does not want his son to be a victim of bullying. There is miscommunication and tense conversations between Darius and his father. It was hard for both of them to come to an understanding. Another aspect that shone in the book was how older generations treat mental illness. Darius tried keeping his depression a secret from his grandparents. It is hard to communicate with family members when it comes to mental illness. This caused a lot of awkward moments.

The writing was quite interesting to say the least. I was not the biggest fan of the writing style, and it took me a while to get used to…and it honestly seemed there was going to be a romance between Darius and Sohrab. I was expecting it for the very last chapters of the book…and it left me disappointed. I would have loved if the author had explored Darius sexuality more. Some scenes did feel that Darius was flirting, but it was a bit frustrating that this never led anywhere. It also felt that Darius kept reminding readers that he is not fully Persian, nor will ever be. I understand his identity crisis, but it was a constant reminder in most chapters…it did get really annoying. (╬ Ò ‸ Ó)

Honestly, this was a fast read for me. Darius deserved the world and more, he was really sensitive, and he really needed love. Let’s say, I can relate with Darius when it comes to mental illness. It was good, but I am sure others will love it more than me. ٩(๑•◡-๑)۶ⒽⓤⒼ❤

Final Rating: ⭐⭐⭐ (3.75)

 

First Impressions: Love Is Like After The Rain | 恋は雨上がりのように Vol. I by Jun Mayuzuki

Manga First Impressions

MAL Synopsis: Akira Tachibana is a soft-spoken high school student who used to be a part of the track and field club but, due to an injury, she is no longer able to run as fast as she once could. Working part-time at a family restaurant as a recourse, she finds herself inexplicably falling love with her manager, a divorced 45-year-old man with a young son.

Despite the age gap, Akira wholeheartedly embraces his mannerisms and kind nature, which is seen as spinelessness by the other employees, and little by little, the two begin to understand each other. Although unable to explain why exactly she is attracted to him, Akira believes that a concrete reason is not needed to truly love someone. On a rainy day, she decides to finally tell her manager about how she feels… But just how will he react?

*The Goodreads Synopsis is not that good compared to the MAL Synopsis*

I stumbled upon Love Is Like After The Rain while browsing for new manga to read online. I really liked the cover art and read the synopsis. Yes, I understand that the manga might be taboo. The main protagonist is Akira Tachibana who is still in high school and has fallen for a man who is old enough to be her father. I was intrigued, and was still hesitant to read it because I was worry that this was going to be a perversive love story. I still ended up reading Love is Like After The Rain and I really like it.

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Akira is not giving the time nor day for this guy.

Akira is popular among the boys, but she has no interest in them. She often tends to be alone in class and avoid any situations that will put her in awkward situations. One thing is for certain and that is that she loves working at her job. In this first volume there are glimpses of how Akira came to work for her manager. She used to be a track and field star but injured herself and quit her team because of it. I have a feeling that later on in the story it is going to be revealed what cause her injury. I even suspect that once she quit track and field that she had might have ghosted her other team members and lost friendships.

The first volume has comedy, but it focuses more on Akira observing the life around her. What I really liked is how her manager misinterprets Akira’s behavior. Akira might look cold and angry, but she is the complete opposite of that. Based on this first volume, the love is one sided. The manager does care for Akira and even goes out of his way to help her, but are the feelings there for Akira yet? Not in this volume. Am I a fan of the potential romance? At this moment, I can say no. I do believe the more Akira gets to know her manager more, feelings will develop but I honestly believe that as a couple they won’t be endgame. I feel that by the last volume they might end up with completely different people. Who knows, I might be completely wrong and they might end up together living happily ever after. As for now, I’ll continue reading the manga just to see what happens in this story.

Lastly, this manga is getting an anime adaptation!! 

 

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Final Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (3.5)

The Gods Lie by Kaori Ozaki

Natsuru Nanao, a 6th grader who lives alone with his mother, strikes up an unlikely friendship with the reserved and driven Rio Suzumura. Natsuru plays hookey from soccer camp that summer, and instead of telling the truth to his mother, he spends all his time with Rio and her kid brother at their rickety house, where a dark secret threatens to upend their fragile happiness.

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I kept seeing this manga being advertised on my Amazon recommendations, and I decided to check it out. I read this manga in under an hour. I do recommend checking out the The Gods Lie from the library rather than buying it.

When it came to The Gods Lie, I was captivated by the cover and the title. The title is what drew me in. I did not anticipate finishing the manga in less than an hour. The Gods Lie felt rushed. There was not enough material for me to be satisfied. I felt that The Gods Lie could have had at least five more chapters to have a solid, well rounded story that could have been memorable for readers.

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What I liked from reading The Gods Lie was the unlikely romance between Natsuru Nanao and Rio Suzumura. I felt that there relationship was cute, but I did not like that how rushed the romance was given this manga was five chapters long. So the romance was very fast paced for me. It felt as if they became friends and suddenly they fell in love with each other. I also liked that The Gods Lie dealt with maturity, especially for Rio Suzumara’s case. Rio had to be the adult in her family despite being a pre-teen. While her classmates were enjoying their youth, Rio had to be an adult. She had to tackle the responsibilities that were literally thrown to her. In addition, Rio and her younger brother had to deal with abandonment from their father. Rio had to be both mother and father to her younger brother without the help from any other relative. At the same time, Natsuru learns about Rio’s situation and becomes her protector. Natsuru learns to love Rio despite their differences.

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As for the twist, I did see it coming. The manga does give small hints about the twist. So when it was revealed, it was sad but not shocking to say the least. The ending had a hopeful ending for the protagonists. T Originally I was going to rate The Gods Lie a four out of five, but after much thought this manga is a solid three.

Final Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

ARC: Emma In The Night by Wendy Walker

Emma In The Night

From the bestselling author of All Is Not Forgotten comes a thriller about two missing sisters, a twisted family, and what happens when one girl comes back…

One night three years ago, the Tanner sisters disappeared: fifteen-year-old Cass and seventeen-year-old Emma. Three years later, Cass returns, without her sister Emma. Her story is one of kidnapping and betrayal, of a mysterious island where the two were held. But to forensic psychiatrist Dr. Abby Winter, something doesn’t add up. Looking deep within this dysfunctional family Dr. Winter uncovers a life where boundaries were violated and a narcissistic parent held sway. And where one sister’s return might just be the beginning of the crime.

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I received Emma In The Night through the website SheSpeaks. This is an honest review.

Let’s start with this, I finished reading Emma In The Night in less than two days. I haven’t been so emotionally invested in a book this year until this one. Emma In The Night is amazing. I went into the book with no expectations. I started the first chapter yesterday and I really found it hard to put down the book. The book was beautifully written and I was captivated.

Emma In The Night is a dark mystery that revolves around two sisters Emma and Cassandra Tanner. Both sisters disappeared three years ago and their case was deemed cold. One day, Cassandra Tanner returns and the search for her sister begins once again. Each chapter had me hooked, I am not going to lie. Cassandra did not reveal her story all at once. I had to keep reading in order to find out what happened in the three years the sisters disappeared. I wanted to know the motive of them disappearing. At first I thought they were kidnapped, and then I was starting to believe that they had ran away. The story became darker as Cass was revealing what really happened to her and Emma.

The whole time I believed Cassandra and her retelling her story of survival. After all she and her sister had been through, I had no doubt about the authenticity of her story. I honestly had no idea that I was going to be deceived by the protagonist. I did not expect an unreliable narrator!  I never saw it coming. There were so many twists and turns when it came to Emma In The Night. My favorite character was Cassandra. Despite being an unreliable narrator, she endured so much. She was emotionally detached coming back after three years and suffered a traumatic childhood. Cassandra wanted to live a normal life with her father and sister. Cassandra was aware of how toxic her mother was growing up. Cassandra knew she was the weaker sibling while Emma was the stronger one. I felt that Cassandra was the stronger sibling in the end. Emma was on the path of self destruction despite being mother’s favorite, while Cassandra did whatever it take to survive abuse and torture.

As for the reveal of this psychological thriller, I could not believe what happened that night the sisters disappeared. I was shocked. I loved that the book made me question what was real and what was not. I thought it was interesting how the book had two perspectives. One being Cassandra’s perspective and the other being Dr. Abby Winters who was part of the investigation team. I liked how both Cassandra and Abby had similar childhood experiences.

As for Abby Winters perspective, I thought it was an interesting choice. Abby Winters tried her best to solve the disappearance of Cassandra and Emma. Abby had to work hard in order to resolve the issue. She never gave up on the case because it hit close to home for her. She was responsible for putting the pieces together while Cassandra came back and told her story of her disappearance to the world. I enjoyed reading Abby’s perspective, she’s the protagonist that you can trust while reading the story.

I don’t want to spoil everything for anyone who wants to read Emma In The Night, but I will end with this: If you want to read a dark psychological thriller for this summer I’d recommend checking out Emma In The Night. The more you read, the darker the book becomes.

Final Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (4.5)

Summer Days And Summer Nights by Stephanie Perkins

summer days and summer nights

Author: Stephanie Perkins

Genre: Contemporary, Short Stories, YA

Links: Amazon | Goodreads

Goodreads Synopsis: Maybe it’s the long, lazy days, or maybe it’s the heat making everyone a little bit crazy. Whatever the reason, summer is the perfect time for love to bloom. Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories, written by twelve bestselling young adult writers and edited by the international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins, will have you dreaming of sunset strolls by the lake. So set out your beach chair and grab your sunglasses. You have twelve reasons this summer to soak up the sun and fall in love.

Featuring stories by Leigh Bardugo, Francesca Lia Block, Libba Bray, Cassandra Clare, Brandy Colbert, Tim Federle, Lev Grossman, Nina LaCour, Stephanie Perkins, Veronica Roth, Jon Skovron, and Jennifer E. Smith.

overall feelings copy

When I first read My True Love Gave To Me a couple years ago, I loved it. It was perfect for the holiday season. When Summer Days and Summer Nights was announced, I had to get my hands on the book as soon as possible. I saw a couple of mixed reviews on Summer Days and Summer Nights, and from what I saw it was not as hyped up like other books. All I have to say is wow…I really didn’t expect to take a month to finish a book. It wasn’t even long. The best way to describe the overall reading experience was meh.

There were a couple of stories that did stand out from the twelve. For example, Leigh Bardugo’s Head, Scales, Tongue, Tail was one of my favorites. It stood out because of the creepy atmosphere, and it was interesting all together. I would have loved for it to be standalone and longer. Another one of the strong stories had to be The Map of Tiny Perfect Things by Lev Grossman

There were a couple of weak stories such as Sick Pleasure by Francesca Lia Block…It had no plot whatsoever, and it was one of the depressing one from the bunch. I thought it didn’t fit in the stories format. What I liked from Summer Days and Summer Nights is that most of the stories weren’t contemporary. Cassandra Clare’s Brand New Attraction, had an interesting premise, though what’s up with the almost incest (cousins falling in love with each other). Although I did find myself enjoying a couple of the stories, Summer Days and Summer Nights didn’t have a lasting impression on me. It was enjoyable for only the time being and I don’t feel that I would reconsider rereading it.

  • Head, Scales, Tongue, Tail by Leigh Bardugo ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
    • Magical story that would have been amazing if it weren’t a short story.
  • The End of Love by Nina Lacour ⭐️⭐️
    • It was cute, but definitely felt like it had a lot going to it.
  • Last Stand At the Cinegore by Libba Bray ⭐️⭐️⭐️
    • I loved the creepy atmosphere, this one didn’t really have a summer-ish feel to it. It was more of a horror story that would have been perfect if it was in a Halloween anthology.
  • Sick Pleasure by Francesca Lia Block ⭐️
    • Skip this story. Skip. It.
  • In Ninety Minutes Turn North by Stephanie Perkins ⭐️⭐️⭐️
    • Though the story was definitely gushy and cute, but somehow this one didn’t have a “effect” on me.
  • Souvenirs by Tim Federle ⭐️⭐️
    • This one was a bit depressing, and the narrator made it hard to like him.
  • Inertia by Veronica Roth ⭐️⭐️
    • One of odd ones from the bunch. The world building was cool, but it was a bit confusing. This one could have been a standalone, and I didn’t feel the chemistry between the characters.
  • Love is the Last Resort by Jon Skovron ⭐️⭐️⭐️
    • A bit cheesy, but this one was really cute. It felt like a retelling of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Several pairings, but this one had a definite summer feel.
  • Good Luck and Farewell by Brandy Colbert ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
    • POV characters! Diversity! There is chemistry between the characters, and this one felt one very relatable, though I wish this one were longer.
  • Brand New Attraction by Cassandra Clare ⭐️⭐️
    • Again, this one had a Halloween feel to it. I’m not a huge fan of the incest, but interesting premise.
  • A Thousand Ways this Could All Go Wrong by Jennifer E. Smith ⭐️⭐️⭐️
    • Loved how the author portrays autism. Cute romance.
  • The Map of Tiny Perfect Things by Lev Grossman ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
    • Basically like Groundhog Day, and this was my second favorite story from the bunch. I liked the two protagonists and their adventures. It was a bit sad at times.

Final Rating: ⭐️⭐️